Spider-Man: Edge of Time
Welcome true believers, to the second Beenox produced game in the Spider-Man franchise. Following on from the success of Shattered Dimensions (2010), Edge of Time sees players bouncing between the time-lines of Amazing Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2099 in a frenzy of action and fighting. Written by renowned comic book writer Peter Allen David, and including repeat voice performances from Josh Keaton and Christopher Daniel Barnes as the two Spideys and a host of other talent, the second game on the same engine looks like it could only be an improvement.
So, what’s in store this time?
A mystery bad guy seeks to change his present (2099) by going back in to the past. The only way to stop him is for the Spider-Man in each reality to work together to get things back to the way they should be. Using a “cause and effect” system, actions in the present can have surprising consequences in the future. This of course means that your actions as one Spidey may seem a good idea at the time, but when you make things ten times worse for you co-worker you may not be so pleased. It’s a simple idea that contains a surprising amount of logic. If a giant robot in the future is a problem, then obviously destroying it in the past is a good idea. However, let’s face it, they wouldn’t realistically then leave the room unprotected, so you will then find yourself against the next level of security. When it’s used, it’s used very well, but you can’t help but feel that with more time this could have been an even bigger feature of the game.
As your journey progresses you will collect XP and also gold spiders (with a flashing indicator when you’re near one). These can be used to upgrade your move set, from something very basic to a nice selection of more satisfying moves, and also to upgrade your health and stamina. Upgrades can be done individual but there are also some shared spider moves. As the Spideys in this title fight in a similar way however, I found that upgrading one and not the other with a particular move was just an unnecessary confusion.
My Spidey-Sense is Tingling
The key differences between the Spideys is their spider sense skills. Amazing Spider-Man can move with insane speed in limited bursts, allowing him to dodge hits and even bullets as well as allowing him to get past some security sensors without being spotted at all. Spider-Man 2099, on the other hand, has the ability to make a decoy of himself for a limited time. This can be used to distract security and make them target things to your advantage, as well as meaning you can sneak round the back of unsuspecting enemies. Both are tremendously useful, and it is in mastering when and where to use these that you will dominate the game. Once you do, however, you may find a lack of challenge even on the harder setting.
It’s every Spider-Man fans dream to go web-zipping flawlessly around an environment, and although it’s generally a good experience it is still problematic. If there are multiple options to web-zip to you may find yourself flying in the wrong direction. Generally not more than a slight irritation in-game, this can leave you losing your superhero-like cool when completing the challenges. Moving at a slightly more cautious pace does seem to eliminate the problem, but it does detract from the experience.
But What About the Returning Fans?
For those of you who played Shattered Dimensions, you will be delighted to know that one of the best features, the “Web of Challenges”, is back. Unlocked as you progress through the levels, the web contains side missions in combat, obstacle maneuvering and XP orb collection. These can be triggered at the appropriate times if you’re playing the campaign on normal, or can be played straight from the web menu. This is a mammoth time saver if you’re stuck on one challenge in a particular level, and removes a lot of the pressure to complete it as you go, allowing you to focus more on the story.
Shelling out for a comic book writer has done much to keep this game afloat. The story is interesting, if a little understated, and flows like a film as no level ends have been included. This can draw you in, and certainly would if the game had more well-known characters and less padding with generic enemies. Because of this, the memorable fights are few and far between, and there’s little sense of peril or impending doom. Even the boss fights aren’t fulfilling and leave you unsatisfied.
But haven’t we only just had a Spidey game?
Having only a year between titles seems to have been a huge mistake. Instead of building on the past, Edge of Time feels somehow incomplete. With few known faces and repetitive gameplay this is an unfortunate step back in the series. If, like me, you thoroughly enjoyed Shattered Dimensions then there’s still a enjoyable game here, as long as you keep your expectations in check. If you’re looking to embark on your first Spider-Man game, then I suggest you look elsewhere. A couple of good ideas, but not a great finished product.